VoiceoverEasy.net courses are tutorials geared toward blind and visually impaired users of iPhones and iPads with Siri capability, and who use Apple Corporation's accessibility technology called Voiceover to read the screen of their device.

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Unit 6: Calendar Setup and Layout.

For iOS7,8, and 9.

Section 1: Introduction.

In order to display customized text to meet your needs VoiceoverEasy.net needs to know if you want to learn about iPhones or iPads.


DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device

In this lesson you will learn about HOW TO Control the settings for THE BUILT IN CALENDAR and Reminders applications, and how to navigate through the Calendar Application's Time Views. You can use the calendar to schedule appointments, remember birthdays and important dates for your contacts, and merge schedules for work, home and various organizations. Reminders help you to remember tasks such as taking medicine at certain times, call a family member, or pick up milk from the grocery store. By the completion of this lesson you should be able to:

SECTION 2: Terms You Should Know.

2.1: Events verses Tasks.

Events are appointments or special times that you might want to keep track of on your calendar. Each event has a defined start and end time. Examples include weekly meetings, a friend or family member's birthday, your two week vacation, or a medical appointment. Tasks are usually more mundane things like taking out the trash on Wednesdays, picking up coffee and milk on the way home, or taking some medicine at a particular time each day. It's best to track events in the calendar app, while tasks are usually tracked in the reminders app. They will both sound alerts when the particular time for the event or task is nearing.

2.2: Alerts.

Alerts are popups that appear on your iOS Device to tell you that the time for an event is approaching.

2.3: Invitations.

Invitations are special messages sent or received via email to attend a particular event. If the invitation is accepted, then the event is placed on the calendar of the invitee. If the event is declined, then it is not. Usually the sender of the invitation receives a note indicating whether the invitation was accepted or declined.

SECTION 3: Setting Up Your Calendars, Reminders, and Sounds.

All the actions in this section take place in the Settings Application. Follow the steps below to Launch or Open Settings. Launching and opening an app mean the same thing.

  1. If the Home Screen is not already displayed, press the Home button.
  2. Use the Explore gesture, the Next and Previous Item gestures,or invoke the Item Chooser to find the Settings Icon and make it the Current Item.
  3. Use the Activate gesture to launch the Settings application.

Finding the Mail, Contacts and Calendars Button.


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DeviceType = iOS Device

Of course, now that you know how to use Siri, you could just say, "Show Calendar Settings," and as long as you have a wifi or LTE connection to the internet Siri will open the Settings App right to the Mail, Contacts and Calendars screen.

Finding the Calendar Settings in the Mail, Contacts and Calendars Screen.

The Mail, Contacts and Calendars options screen has an Action Row at the top. The options on this screen are divided into three groups. Each of which begins with a heading. The settings we need are in the Calendar Settings Group, which is the last group of settings. You can find this group using any of these techniques.

3.1: The Calendar Settings Group.

The Time Zone Override Button.

When this setting is off, all events and alerts will adjust for the time zone that you are in. For example, if you schedule an event to begin at 4:00 PM while you are on the East coast of the United States, and then travel to the West coast, you will receive the alert at 1:00 PM Pacific Time. If you don't want the alert to adjust for the local time zone, you can turn the override function On.

If you turn this on, the "Default Time Zone" screen appears, and you must Select your default time zone. When you create new events, a setting becomes available for you to specify the time zone where the event will take place.

NOTE: If you change this to On, and you upgrade your iOS Device to a new major release, like iOS 7 to iOS 8, you should check this setting to make sure that it is still set to On. The default value is Off.

The Alternate Calendars Button.

You can turn this setting on if you would prefer to use the Chinese, Hebrew, or Islamic calendar. When the Alternate Calendars Screen appears, use the Select gesture to choose the calendar style you want, then use the Back button to save your changes.

The Week Numbers Button.

If you turn this setting on, then the number of the week of the year will appear above the first full week of each month when the calendar is set to display one month at a time. For example, "week 49" will appear in a row by itself above the first full week in December, because the first full week in December is normally the 49th week of the year.

The Show Invitee Declines Button.

When this setting is On, you will be notified when someone you invited to an event declines your invitation. This is On by default. You might want to turn this off if you often schedule large events where attendance is not mandatory, and you don't want to be bothered each time someone declines.

The Sync, Events Button.

If you have multiple iOS devices, this feature keeps the calendars on all of them in sync. Future events are always kept synchronized, but only past events up to one month ago are synchronized by default. You may want to synchronize past events between iOS devices so that if you were unable to attend an event you had scheduled, you can remove the event from one device, and it will be removed from all devices. It is also possible that the start time or duration of the event changed, and you may wish to update it after the fact to keep track of your activities.

When you press this button, the Sync Screen appears. Use the Select gesture to choose how far in the past you want events to be synchronized. Press the Back button to return to the Mail, Contacts and Calendars Screen.

Default Alert Times.

This button allows you to specify whether Birthdays, Events and All-Day Events trigger an alert, and how much warning you receive before the time of the event. You can set each time differently for each type of event. For example, you may want the alert for birthdays to come a day or two in advance so you have the time to pick up a card or gift. You may want to be reminded about all day events such as seminars a week in advance so you can make travel arrangements. On the other hand, if you use your iOS Device to remind you of appointments, you may only need 30 minutes warning.

To change each setting Activate the button. When the "Default Alert Times" Screen appears, use the Select gesture to choose each setting. When you are finished, press the "Back" button in the upper left corner of the screen.

NOTE: In Creating and Managing Contacts, Section 5.11 we discussed how to add birth dates to the contacts information. If you want to be reminded of birth dates, you must change the Default Alert Time setting for birth dates to something other than "none."

The Start Week On Button.

This button brings up a screen where you can select which day you want your calendars to consider the first day of the week. In most cases the default of Sunday is fine, but if you were using your iOS Device only for work, you might want Monday to be the first day of the week. This would put Saturday and Sunday at the end of all date lists and get them out of your way.

The Default Calendar Button

Just as you can use your iOS Device to manage multiple Email Accounts, you can also use it to manage multiple Calendars. For example, you could have a calendar on G-mail that you use for personal appointments, a calendar on your server at work you use for work related events, and a calendar maintained by a service organization that you belong to where someone posts meetings and volunteer events. This setting allows you to choose which calendar to create events in if you do not explicitly specify which calendar to use at the time you create the event.

3.2: Setting the Calendar Alert and Reminder Alert Sounds.

If you don’t like the default sounds when a calendar or reminder alert pops up, you can change it from within the Settings application.

Beginning in iOS9 you can use the Search Field at the top of the Settings main menu to go directly to the screen that sets the sounds for calendar alerts or Reminder Alerts by following these steps.

  1. Activate the Search Field at the top of the settings main menu."
  2. Type or dictate the words, "Calendar Alerts," or "Reminder Alerts," depending on which sound you want to change.
  3. Press the "Search" key on the soft keypad. It has taken the place of the Return key.
  4. Use the Select gesture to choose the option that matches your search. The Sound Selection Screen will appear.

3.3: The Sound Selection Screen.

The screen for selecting sounds has an Action Row at the top. When the screen is activated, There is a heading which Voiceover reads as Calendar or Reminder Alerts to indicate the type of sound you are selecting, and to indicate the Current Item. Use the Next Item gesture to move to the Sound Volume Picker Item.

The Sound Volume Picker Item.

This Picker Item allows you to adjust the overall volume of your iOS Device in 10% increments. You make the adjustments useing the Increment and Decrement gestures. Be careful not to turn your volume down to zero. If you do, you won't be abale to hear Voiceover.

Change With Buttons.

This button toggles the ability of the volume Up and Down buttons on the side of the iOS Device to affect the volume of the Ringers and Alerts.

The Sound Selection Screen.

Explore a little further down and you will find a heading which reads as, Default. Below this is a button which Voiceover reads as, "Selected," followed by the name of the sound that is played by default for a reminder, appointment or event alert. If you Activate this button, you will hear the default sound. However, if you want to change the devault sound, it must be done from the Settings App.

The Sounds List.

The list of available sounds begins immediately below the Action Row. The list is divided into two sections, ring tones and Alerts. If you dial the rotor to the Headings function, you can move quickly between the two sections with a Set Mode gesture. You can set any sound from either section as a Calendar or Reminder Alerts sound as follows:.

  1. Make one of the sound buttons the Current Item.
  2. Use the Select gesture to select the sound and play it.

At the end of the ring tones and the Alerts sections there are "Classic" buttons. They open other screens with even more sounds. There's some good stuff here, so don't forget to check it out.

Use the "Sounds, Back" button at the upper left to return to the previous Screen.

NOTE: When you press the "Sounds, Back" button, the last sound you played will be the sound set for the Calendar or Reminder Alerts sound. If you decide you liked the previous setting best, be sure and select the sound again before exiting the Sound Selection Screen.

SECTION 4: Launching the Calendar App.

NOTE: Although your iOS Device can support Hebrew, Chinese, and Islamic Calendars, this lesson is designed to work with the Gregorian Calendar, which is the most common calendar used in the western world. It is the type of Calendar displayed when the Alternate Calendar is set to None. This is the default setting.

The Icon for the Calendar app is on the Home Screen. You can use an Activate gesture on the icon, or if you have a good internet connection, you can activate Siri and say, "Open Calendar."

SECTION 5: Time Views.

The calendar displays dates and events in several different layouts that VoiceOverEasy.net calls, "Time Views," which can be displayed only one at a time. Time Views are vertically centered in the display, and take up the majority of the available display area. There is an Action Row displayed above the Time View, which is continued at the bottom of the display. The Calendar App will remember which Time View you were using when the app was exited, and return to that view the next time it is started.

You may wish to Explore the screen of your iOS Device as VoiceOverEasy.net describes each Time View. If you have not already done so, please open the Calendar application now.

5.1: Month View (Default).

Calendars which display dates one month at a time are traditionally represented as a grid with seven columns and a variable number of rows. The columns represent the days of the week from Sunday, on the left, to Saturday, on the right. The number of rows varies depending on Whether each month starts or ends with a partial week. A row above the grid contains the names of the days of the week. Each square contains a number corresponding to the day of the month with the earliest date on the top left, and the latest date on the bottom right.

For example, suppose that Sunday was the first day of the month currently displayed. The number 1 would appear in the left-hand square of the first row. Monday, the 9th would be the second square in the second row. The grid displayed would contain five rows. For rows containing the first 28 days of the month, and possibly a fifth row containing the numbers 29, 30 and possibly 31.

You can Explore the grid with your finger, just like you did with the Home Screen until you find the date you want to examine or add an event to. You can also move sequentially through the dates using the Next and Previous Item gestures.

The Next and Previous Month Gestures.

What happens if you want to move to the next or previous Month from the one displayed? Well, there's a gesture for that. Think of each month as one screen of data. A Triple finger flick up or down will move through the calendar one month Forward or backward respectively. From now on VoiceOverEasy.net will refer to these gestures as the "Next and Previous Month" gestures. If these gestures sound a lot like the Next and Previous Screen gestures, that's because they are the same motion. It just has a different function depending on the context in which you make it. Gestures like this are called Context Sensitive gestures.

Try these gestures now. As you move through the months VoiceOver will announce each month's name.

On the left side of the screen above the grid of dates is a button which VoiceOver reads as the number of the current year plus the words, "Back Button." If you press this button, you will be taken to the Year View described below.

5.2: Year View.

This view displays the months of the year in a grid which is 3 columns wide by 4 rows deep. January, February and March are from left to right in the top row. October, November, and December are from left to right on the bottom. The purpose of this grid is to allow rapid movement over large time intervals. As you Explore the grid, VoiceOver announces each month as it's square is touched. The last month announced becomes the Current Item.

In this Time View the Next and Previous Month gestures become the Next and Previous Year gestures. Go ahead and try them now. When you get to the year and month you want to see in detail, use an Activate gesture to switch back to Month View described in Section 5.1 above.

5.3: The Today Button.

At the bottom left of both the Month andYear Time Views is a button labeled, "Today," which will quickly return you to the current date no matter how far you've moved from it. The best Science Fiction heroes couldn't make time travel any easier!

5.4: Week View.


DeviceNumber = -1
DeviceType = iOS Device

Week Time View is organized as another grid view. This one has the days of the week across the top from Sunday on the left, to Saturday on the right. Each row represents one hour of the day from 12:00 AM at the top, to 11:00 PM at the bottom. The times are listed on the left side of each row. As you explore with your finger to the right and left, VoiceOver will announce each day as you cross into it. As you move up and down, VoiceOver will announce each hour as you enter its row.

If your iOS Device cannot display all 24 hours of the day at one time, you can use the Next and Previous Screen gestures to scroll the grid up and down.

The Next and Previous Week Gestures.

In this Time View the three finger flick left and right gestures become the Next and Previous Week gestures respectively. You may recognize these gestures as the Next and Previous Screen gestures. This is another example of Context Sensitive gestures.

NOTE: If your iOS Device cannot display all seven days of the week, these gestures will scroll forward or backward by the number of days the grid can display. So if your iOS Device can only display sunday through Thursday, the Next Week gesture will scroll so that Friday becomes the left-hand column, and the grid will display some days from the next week.

5.5: Day View.


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DeviceType = iOS Device

The Day Time View is organized as another grid view. It is very similar to the week Time View, except That the grid only shows one day at a time. The advantage of this view over the Week Time View is that more data about each event appears on screen. Each row represents one hour of the day from 12:00 AM at the top, to 11:00 PM at the bottom. The times are listed on the left side of each row. As you move up and down, VoiceOver will announce each hour as you enter its row.

There is a row of buttons just above the grid. They are labeled with the days of the week from Sunday on the left, to Saturday on the right. To display the grid for a different day of the same week, simply Press its corresponding button.

The Next and Previous Day Gestures.

In this Time View the three finger flick left and right gestures become the Next and Previous Day gestures respectively.

SECTION 6: The Calendars Button.

This button is centered at the bottom of the Calendar app screen. When it is activated a screen with a list of available calendars is displayed. VoiceOverEasy.net will refer to this screen as the "Calendar List Screen."

At the Top of the Calendar List Screen is an Action Row. At the left side of the row is an "Edit" button. This button allows you to add and remove calendars from the list. At the center of the row is a heading that reads Calendars. To the right is the "Done" button which returns you to the Calendar app's main screen.

SECTION 7: Reminders Settings.

The settings for the Reminders App can be found on the main settings screen. Once the Settings app has been activated, use any technique you wish to find the button that VoiceOver reads as "Reminders," and Activate it. You can also use Siri to open the Reminders Settings Screen, but be careful! You need to separate the "S" at the end of the word "Reminders" from the "S" at the beginning of the word "Settings."

NOTE: One of the most common causes of interpretation errors by Siri or in dictation is when one word ends with the "S" sound, and the next word starts with the same sound. This is because if you don't put a slight separation between the two "S" sounds, your iOS Device tends to interpret the sound as a single letter. Let's look at an example. Screen reader users may want to examine the two examples one letter at a time to make them clear. Otherwise, they will sound identical. You will have the same trouble hearing the difference that your iOS Device does.

  1. "Show Reminders Settings"
  2. "Show Reminder Settings"
The First will display the Reminders App Settings. The second Will cause Siri to respond, "You have no reminder about settings."

There are only two settings for reminders, and they closely mirror two of the settings we have already talked about for the Calendar application. In most cases the default settings are fine. So we won't spend a lot of time on them.

7.1: The Sync, Reminders .

If you have multiple iOS devices, this feature keeps the Reminders on all of them in sync. Reminders of tasks in the future are always kept synchronized, but only reminders of past tasks up to one month ago are synchronized by default. You may want to synchronize past reminders between iOS devices.

When you press this button, the Sync Screen appears. Use the Select gesture to choose how far in the past you want reminders to be synchronized. Press the Back button to return to the Mail, Contacts and Calendars Screen.

7.2: The Default List Button.

When you Press this button, a list of services that you subscribe to that support reminders will appear as well as any task lists you have created in the Reminders app. Use the Select gesture to select the default location for reminders.

SECTION 8: Exercises.

  1. What command can you give Siri to open the Calendar Settings Screen? What other two application setup screens are in the same place?
  2. How many Time Views does the Calendar have?
  3. What day of the week was January 1st 2000?
  4. What is the fastest way to jump back to the current date?
  5. What are the first three events, if any, listed on your calendar for the month after next? What were the steps you used to find out
  6. How can you determine whether to put something in the calendar as an event, or in Reminders as a task?

Click here for answers to this exercise.

Congratulations! This finishes the lesson on Setting up and Navigating the Calendar Application. In the next lesson we will learn how to Create and Manage events, respond to Alerts, and work with repeating events.

Before you go on to the next lesson, would you like to take the optional survey for this lesson?

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